To anyone in their teens today, I suspect my experience of school must sound as foreign as Hogwarts, with masters in gowns and corporal punishment galore. But one thing I look back on with gratitude is the fact that we had to write with pen and ink until we were 18. I have never lost the love for the luxurious feeling of a nib on paper - and in common with all my classmates my handwriting has never looked as good. For some reason, a rollerball's results are a sad disappointment. School also drummed into me - literally - one of the niceties of English grammar: the difference between "can" and "may". If we asked one particular master "Can I fill my pen?" it would result in a clip over the ear and a retort, "I don't know if you can or not but you may if you need to." Today, thanks to email, a hand-written note has become one of life's great joys and a handsome fountain pen a real luxury. Click through the slides above for some of the best brands to write home about.